This week, Ryan takes a look at the forthcoming remake of 90s adventure Outcast, and checks in on the progress of the sandbox MMO, Worlds Adrift...
Plug & Play
The Millennium Bug, Will Smith's action comedy Wild Wild West, Swear It Again by Westlife... There are many things that weren’t particularly good about the year 1999, but third-person adventure game Outcast wasn’t one of them. Widely regarded as one of the earliest examples of a proper 3D open-world game, Outcast took place in a parallel world of aliens and strange creatures. There was exploration, gunplay, stealth and even a bit of crafting. A surprisingly modern game, both visually and mechanically (its use of voxels was highly unusual for the time), Outcast still retains something of a cult following – even as Wild Wild West and Westlife have faded from popular memory.
Original developer Appeal hasn’t forgotten about Outcast, either. The Belgian studio originally went bust in 2001, taking a proposed sequel to Outcast with them, but in 2013, the game’s creators returned to announce that they’d managed to acquire the Outcast rights from then-owners, Atari. An enhanced version of Outcast appeared on Steam about six months later, but Appeal didn’t intend to leave it there; it announced plans to produce an HD remake of Outcast at around the same time and asked for a minimum goal of $600,000 to produce the title on Kickstarter.
That campaign didn’t quite go to plan, with the game struggling to earn much more than half of the funding Appeal expected. Salvation has now appeared in the form of independent publisher Bigben Interactive, which has put up the necessary capital so that Appeal can finally get to work on its high-def remake.
As part of that deal, Appeal has returned with a few more details of its reboot. Now titled Outcast: Second Contact, it will feature an overhauled soundtrack and voice acting, improved character models and textures. The images you can see sprinkled around this page provide our first look at the remake, and we must say, it’s looking rather pretty already.
While remakes of old games aren’t always something to get excited about, that Outcast’s original designers – Yves Grolet, Yann Robert and Frank Sauer – are behind the new version should ensure that plenty of time and care will be put into bringing it up to date.
Second Contact is scheduled for launch in “early 2017”. If all goes well, the sci-fi adventure and its brilliantly named protagonist Cutter Slade will be capturing the imaginations of a whole new generation of gamers – or, at the very least, making us older ones party like it’s 1999.
Ever since we first caught wind of it, we’ve thought that Bossa Studios’ MMO Worlds Adrift was a game with real promise. As it turns out, we’re not the only ones; the developer’s recently enjoyed a fairly hefty cash injection thanks to London Venture Partners. The venture capital firm is investing $1.35 million in Bossa according to a recent report, which should mean that the studio’s most ambitious project to date can really take flight.
Worlds Adrift, you may recall, is an online game in which players can create and fly huge airships across a shared, persistent game map. There are no shortage of wannabe Minecraft games on the market, but Worlds Adrift looks like a refreshingly different twist on the build-and-explore theme; the emphasis here is less on survival than crafting and combat, but there’s also a whole world to explore if you’re not in the
mood for blazing cannons at high altitude. You can swing from floating island to floating island with your trusty grappling hook, and there are all kinds of exotic animals crawling and flying around – which will probably respond in kind if you try to attack them. You can forge alliances with other players to form ad-hoc bands of sky pirates, or you can scuttle in after other players have fought one another and scavenge the wreckage of their craft to improve your own.
A little like No Man’s Sky, Worlds Adrift is one of those big games from a relatively small developer that could be biting off more than it can chew. The footage, dev diaries and interviews Bossa has provided so far indicate that there’s more to Worlds Adrift than hype, though. However, as always, an online game lives or dies by its community, so if the MMO really can hook in the thousands of players Bossa says Worlds Adrift is capable of supporting, its scale and action could be quite unlike anything we’ve seen in a sandbox game before.
Although the game went through an alpha test a few months ago, Bossa is still remaining cagey about when it’ll come out; Steam has it pegged for launch in 2016, but a July blog post from the studio stated that the game’s still being polished. That Bossa’s had a healthy amount of money thrown in its direction should, we hope, mean that they’ll have the resources to make Worlds Adrift live up to its promise.
Until the full game arrives, Bossa’s released a free-todownload Island Creator, in which you can design and play around with your own floating land masses. Submit them to Bossa, and you might find your design in the finished game.
Proving that even the most puerile, unreconstructed games of the 90s can still make a comeback, the rebooted Shadow Warrior was an unexpected success when it emerged in 2013. This was, of course, an HD remake of the retro shooter of the same name, in which the toe-curlingly named ninja antihero Lo Wang shot and hacked his way through an army of demonic enemies.
Its reception was so positive that developer Flying Wild Hog has come up with a sequel – with a twist. Where the original was a pure, old-school blaster, Shadow Warrior 2 takes the form of an action RPG with loot, weapons that can be levelled up and a series of open, procedurally generated areas linked to a central hub. Anyone worried that Shadow Warrior 2 has become a bit too cerebral can rest assured that the bloodletting, guns, and dismemberment are back and more over the top than ever. Lo Wang continues to provide a running commentary of four-letter words and daft catchphrases (“Here comes the boom-stick!”), while the devilish bad guys are just as brutish and lacking in strategy as ever.
According to Devolver Digital, Shadow Warrior 2 will be available for PC in “less than two months.” A precise release date? Lo Wang’s far too cool for that sort of thing. mm
It might hail from the last millennium, but Outcast is still a cracking action adventure - and it’s getting a HD remake next year, courtesy of its original developer
Lo Wang’s set to return in a matter of weeks in Shadow Warrior 2, a retro blaster with a welcome smattering of RPG elements
Worlds Adrift is one of the most promising online games on the horizon. Its open-world airship battles are scheduled to appear later this year